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Game Profile
INFO BOX
PLATFORM:
Xbox
PUBLISHER:
Eidos Interactive
DEVELOPER:
IO Interactive
GENRE: Action
PLAYERS:   1
RELEASE DATE:
May 30, 2006
ESRB RATING:
Mature
IN THE SERIES
Hitman

Hitman 5

Hitman: Blood Money

Hitman: Blood Money

Hitman: Contracts

More in this Series
 Written by Troy Matsumiya  on April 10, 2006

First Impressions: Baldy's ballers are back!


The past several years have seen Sam Fisher ruling as the stealth shooter king. Before him, it was Solid Snake; and before him, it was Garrett, who also begat the whole genre with the ground-breaking Thief. In between, a snappily dressed, genetically engineered bald dude with a barcode tattooed on the back of his neck took several serious runs at the coveted stealth throne. He never quite made it ? thanks to some buggy and comparatively unpolished AI and gameplay ? but the potential for greatness was always there. As a result, the deadly Agent 47 has earned an impressively large and loyal fan base that is eagerly awaiting Hitman: Blood Money, the fourth installment of the series. And so far, all indications are this could be baldy's best game yet with new moves, a new game engine, improved AI and the new Notoriety system.

This time around, Agent 47 will be fighting to save his shiny pate after several of his ICA assassin buddies are, well, assassinated. It seems that a rival agency doesn't believe in fair competition and so decides to conduct a most unfriendly corporate takeover. Needless to say it's up to old baldy to exact revenge and eliminate the rival agents (some of whom he will encounter in boss fights).

As in the previous editions, you will be given the freedom to approach your missions in any number of ways: you can be all sneaky and stealthy by planting remote-controlled explosives or sabotage a heavy chandelier to crush your target and make it look like an accident; or simply go postal and blast everything that moves. However, in Blood Money your actions will have consequences in later missions thanks to the new Notoriety system.

If you go nuts and leave behind a messy pile of bodies, your Notoriety level will increase and your exploits will be reported in the newspaper after each level. The newspaper will describe who and how many people were killed, how many shots were fired (all clever ways of tracking your performance statistics) and even a police sketch of your smiling mug if you weren't careful enough to conceal your identity. As fun as going on a gun-crazy rampage might be, the downside is that people will begin to recognize you and run screaming to alert the police ? and your target ? if your Notoriety is too high. Not good. On the other hand, if you take a careful and stealthy approach by hiding bodies and making hits look like accidents, you will have a low Notoriety level and be ignored by the general public.

But sometimes the only way to complete a hit is to take the direct approach. What's a hair-challenged assassin to do? As before, Agent 47 will be able to steal clothes off of unconscious or dead NPCs and mingle relatively unnoticed in hostile territory. However, this time around he will have some new tricks up his sleeve. For example, now he can distract NPCs by throwing objects and make them investigate the noise; grab NPCs and use them as human shields; disarm enemies by stripping them of their weapons; and use his garrote to grab enemies from above and choke them. Yes, Sam Fisher does most of this stuff already, but it's still a nice addition to the series. Agent 47 also has improved melee attacks like a head butt, and new abilities like climbing pipes and jumping across gaps between two balconies. And no, he won't be doing any painful wall splits.

Perhaps his coolest new ability is carrying an unholstered weapon without attracting attention. In previous games, if you walked around with a weapon in your hand you would immediately frighten non-combatants and alert the enemy; this time, you will be able to pull out a handgun or small SMG and tuck it behind your leg out of sight, allowing you to be quick on the trigger while avoiding suspicion.

Also new to the series is the ability to earn cash for your hits. The ?cleaner? your hits, the more money you will make; in other words, creating a blood bath won't be good for your Notoriety or your wallet. With cash in hand, you will be able to buy better weapons ? like the SPAS and baldy's trusty Ballers ? and between 10-15 upgrades per weapon, including silencers, laser sights, scopes and improved attributes such as an increased rate of fire, faster reloads, reduced recoil, increased power, increased accuracy and even make your weapons invisible to metal detectors. You can also buy intel and information to help you on your next mission. As well, you can reduce your Notoriety by bribing people to ?forget? who you are by buying security camera tapes and even new ID.

Despite all of these new moves and abilities, Agent 47 will have his hands full because the enemy AI has been given a boost as well, as they will now follow blood trails and check into suspicious activity. Even non-hostile NPCs are smarter and act more realistically. As a result, you will have to be very careful where you hide bodies; simply chucking a body out a window or plopping it into a dumpster will not be satisfactory anymore, since it could be found by a passing pedestrian or a cook taking out the trash.

Agent 47 will travel to such places as Las Vegas, New Orleans and Paris, all of which look fantastic. In fact, everything looks great thanks to the game's brand new engine, which features dynamic soft shadows, realistic light refraction, normal mapped characters and higher detail overall. Character animation is also very smooth and realistic. Accompanying the visual improvements will be the return of Jesper Kyd and the Budapest Symphony Orchestra to provide the powerful epic score Hitman fans have come to expect.

Final Thoughts
The Hitman series has been steadily improving with each iteration and Blood Money is looking to take things to a new level. But will baldy be sneaky enough to slip past Sam in the stealth wars? We'll find out for sure at the end of May.


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